Charlotte, The Celebrity Stingray Of Viral “Pregnancy” Fame, Has Died

Charlotte, The Celebrity Stingray Of Viral "Pregnancy" Fame, Has Died

Charlotte, The Celebrity Stingray Of Viral “Pregnancy” Fame, Has Died

Charlotte, the celebrity stingray that was controversially declared to be pregnant despite only sharing her tank with sharks rather than males of her species, has died.

The Aquarium and Shark Lab in Hendersonville, North Carolina, announced the sad news on their social media late Sunday night while thanking fans for their “love and support.”

“We are sad to announce, after continuing treatment with her medical care team and specialist, our ray Charlotte passed away today,” the aquarium posted on Facebook.

“We are continuing to work with her medical care team and research specialist,” they added.

The aquarium didn’t explicitly give a cause of death, but a previous post did state she was suffering from a rare reproductive disease.

Back in February, the aquarium announced that the female stingray was pregnant despite not having shared a tank with a male stingray in at least eight years. 

“Our stingray, Charlotte, is expecting! We have held this close to our hearts for over 3 months,” Team ECCO, which runs the aquarium, announced on Facebook in February, alongside ultrasound scans. 

“The really amazing thing is we have no male ray!”

The news was widely covered by the media – including IFLScience, obviously – and social media was abuzz with speculation. Some suggested Charlotte may have been impregnated by another species in the tank, such as a shark, in a rare instance of hybridization. However, marine biologists stressed the world’s first “shingray” was unlikely, given the two species are fairly distantly related, plus there are no documented cases of sharks breeding with stingrays.

Experts at the aquarium eventually settled on parthenogenesis, a term that stems from the Greek for “virgin birth,” in which an embryo can develop without fertilization, as the most likely scenario. It’s a pretty rare phenomenon, but it has been documented in certain species of insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and – most importantly – fish.

A major twist in the story occurred in May when the aquarium revealed Charlotte had “developed a rare reproductive disease that has negatively impacted her reproductive system.” They continued to suggest the stingray had previously been pregnant, but the embryo had been terminated due to the illness. 

Some, however, doubt whether she was ever pregnant in the first place. Smelling something fishy about the story, marine experts criticized the aquarium, claiming they had spread misinformation and were possibly putting the stingray’s life at risk. The aquarium denied this.

“I can only tell you what we know for certain. I’ve never been a liar. This was not a scam. This was not anything made up, but people do that. People have their own thoughts,” Brenda Ramer, the owner of the aquarium, told local TV station WLOS.

Surrounded by uncertainty, it appears the stingray’s life was ultimately cut short due to her reproductive disease. It’s a sad ending to the saga, but few rays can say they were featured on Saturday Night Live.

Source: iflscience

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Charlotte, The Celebrity Stingray Of Viral “Pregnancy” Fame, Has Died

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